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Why Care For Your Gums?

A beautiful smile includes more than healthy teeth and a sparkle in your eye!  Your gums are also on display when you talk, laugh or flash your pearly whites.  Gums are the tissue that surround and support your teeth.  When healthy, they will look pink and firm and cover the roots of your teeth entirely.  But gum health is about more than just a gorgeous grin.  The state of your gums is a good indicator of your overall health.  Unhealthy gums will look red, puffy or filmy, and bleed easily. Research has shown links between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.  Gum health is of special importance if you are pregnant because gum disease is a strong indicator of pre-mature birth.

You know that you need to brush your teeth to avoid tooth decay.  But while you care for your teeth to avoid cavities and other common tooth issues, you may forget to care for your gums with the same vigilance.  If you should get a cavity, your dentist can perform procedures to restore your teeth. But decayed tissue and gums cannot be repaired with the same immediacy.  Your dentist can’t simply give you a filling or crown for your gums. Instead, we’ll need to work together to rebuild gum tissue over time.   Read on to learn more about gum disease and which measures you can take to protect your mouth from this problem.

 

What Is Gum Disease?

Both gum disease and tooth decay result from the same source: bacteria. The human mouth holds thousands of bacteria,and difficulties arise when they are allowed to linger in your mouth.  Two conditions describe different stages of gum disease. Below, we’ve provided a more in-depth description of each circumstance.

Gingivitis

Simply put, gingivitis is the inflammation of gums caused by prolonged exposure to bacterial buildup. Dental professionals refer to the buildup of biofilms as “plaque”. As plaque hardens over time, it becomes calculus (better known as tartar). When tartar remains in your mouth for too long, gingivitis develops. Symptoms of gingivitis include swollen and red, puffy gums. Bleeding and sensitivity may also occur as gingivitis becomes more severe. This gum condition not only indicates gum disease, but can also lead to future gum and dental problems as well. However, you can reverse the effects of gingivitis through thorough dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.

Periodontitis

When you allow gingivitis to go untreated, periodontitis develops. This condition will gradually progress until your gums become incredibly inflamed. Additionally, your gum tissue will pull away from your teeth and supporting bone. Once a gap forms between your gums and teeth, plaque settles in these open spaces and spreads beneath your gumline. If the condition persists, your body breaks down the gums, tissue, and bones that support your teeth. Once these structures fail, your teeth can no longer function properly and require removal.

How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

Although gum disease presents serious side effects, simple steps prevent it. The best ways to keep your whole mouth healthy include:

  • Eat foods that are delicious AND nutritious!  Look for foods with a high calcium content, as well as vitamins D, A, and C.   You can do this easily if you focus on foods that are naturally colorful.
  • Consume sugary foods and drinks in moderation.  And always remember to brush that sweet tooth!
  • Practice correct and frequent oral care routine.  Brush twice a day using a gentle circular motion on all tooth surfaces.  Remember to let the bristles of your toothbrush massage your gums as part of brushing.  And, bacteria is the enemy; floss is your friend!!  Use it every single day.
  • Be a regular with your hygienist!  Visit your dentist for semi-annual checkups and cleaning.  They can help you with proper flossing techniques while they keep an eye on your oral health.

Can Dentists Treat Gum Disease?

Yes!  Your dentist or hygienist can perform routine procedures to get your gums free of buildup and keep them that way.  Under certain circumstances, your dentist may refer you to a specialist, known as a periodontist to further aid your cause.

Now you know a bit more about how to keep your whole smile healthy, strong and beautiful. As always, good dental hygiene habits are the best way to maintain or improve your oral health.  But if you feel like you’ve gotten behind in your check-ups, don’t be shy to schedule a visit.